Building Stronger Connections With Members: How Understanding Benefits Improves Medicare Advantage Member Loyalty
If you're open to exploring ways to improve retention with Medicare Advantage (MA) members, you might want to take a closer look at what formats, personalization, and retention methods work best for these unique individuals.
When it comes to the importance of personalization, you can attain significantly better results by tailoring your messaging to match each member's unique perspective. Given that MA members are ages 65+, you could keep it simple and segment members into just two different categories: Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation.
Baby Boomers are the largest group of consumers, but their needs and approach differ considerably from other generations, such as the Silent Generation. Boomers and the Silent Generation tend to react differently when it comes to messaging. Baby Boomers are known to be resourceful and take their time researching and shopping around before making a purchase.
Alternatively, the Silent Generation prefers in-person shopping and tends to stay loyal to businesses that respect and value their relationships. For many people in the Silent Generation, respect and courtesy were parts of everyday life. Businesses that exemplify these traditional values are, therefore, more likely to retain loyalty among members of this generation.
While the way Boomers and the Silent Generation respond and prefer to shop is different, one thing is clear: Both generations want to find a health plan that fits their needs and adds inherent value. If a plan is convoluted or confusing, these individuals will likely take their business elsewhere.
By practicing transparency in healthcare and providing clear communication to all members in ways that work best for them, you can ultimately reach your target audience effectively and boost your member retention rates.
How Does Understanding Health Plan Benefits Improve Retention?
As a health plan, it's important to ensure your members understand the benefits you offer. This is key to maintaining member loyalty. At a recent RISE Medicare Advantage conference, there was a panel of 10 MA members on stage in a focus group setting. They were asked, "If you could tell your health plan what type of communication you want to receive, what would you say?"
Their response was not surprising. Nine out of 10 of these MA members said they want more communication that explains benefits more clearly. Members need to better understand what benefits are available and any out-of-pocket costs when using specific benefits in order to stay loyal.
Nine out of 10 MA members said they want more communication that explains benefits more clearly.
While members may desire supplemental benefits not covered by their plan, switching plans isn't always necessary if you can provide the value in which they are looking for. With the rise of inflation and the aging population often being on a fixed income, it becomes imperative for the member to perceive the value of the health plan they are enrolled in. Offering consistent and clear communication around steps to improve your health helps the member feel valued and cared for. These measures ultimately build a relationship that is meaningful and impactful to your members' everyday lives.
A user of Hallmark cards recently reported: "Recipients of Hallmark greeting cards gave a 25% higher satisfaction rating on surveys compared with non-Hallmark card recipients. Additionally, with the Hallmark card recipients, we saw a 13% higher rating on 'ease of doing business.' What's interesting to us is there were no transactions conducted. The Hallmark cards created a perception change!"
Recipients of Hallmark greeting cards gave a 25% higher satisfaction rating on surveys compared with non-Hallmark card recipients. Additionally, with the Hallmark card recipients, we saw a 13% higher rating on ‘ease of doing business.’ What’s interesting to us is there were no transactions conducted. The Hallmark cards created a perception change!
Do MA Members Become Frustrated When Benefits Are Unclear or Poorly Explained?
Yes, they do! If the member has a difficult time getting answers to questions about benefits, it can lead to a negative perception of the health plan. Many members and caregivers encounter poor experiences, and most are easily confused and reach out to call center representatives multiple times. When members have to call customer service numerous times to resolve issues, it creates a poor experience with growing frustration and is often the key deciding factor in changing health plans.
A QuestionPro member satisfaction survey found that health insurance is near the bottom of positive customer experiences (with the likes of cable TV services). The good news here is there is a lot of room for improvement.
This is why transparency in healthcare and clarity around benefits is so important. You might lose many loyal members if they don't understand your benefits and out-of-pocket costs. A study found that MA members prefer to do their research to find the ideal plan and make a switch based on the information available. As such, you want to make sure that your information is relevant and easy to understand. Members who struggle getting answers and have bad customer experiences can often lead to lowered brand perception and the member switching to a competitor.
Why Do Hallmark Cards Perform So Well With MA Members?
Hallmark cards have the best potential to reach MA members because the 65+ population — primary buyers of Hallmark cards — trusts Hallmark. According to the 2021 Harris Poll Equitrend Study, Hallmark is the #1 greeting card brand with 85% brand recognition. Not only do Hallmark cards stand out as one of the most trusted of 200 brands, but Hallmark cards can also be used to show concern, celebrate, and appreciate those closest to you.
One of the Most Trusted Brands of All Time
#1 Greeting Card Brand
85% Brand Recognition
Top 13% of All Trusted Brands
What is the Importance of Empathy in Healthcare?
There is no industry more influenced by emotion than healthcare. When emotion is a building block of the member experience and purchase decision process, you must engage using emotional intelligence. Successful health plans are co-branding themselves with the Hallmark brand, and it favorably impacts the way members feel about their health plan.
While digital formats dominate the advertising world, they are not effective in reaching the aging population. This generation prefers print media, which they see as a more reliable source of information. Many health plans still refer to direct mail as the "workhorse" for MA member engagement. These members are not influenced by social media when making buying decisions, so it's essential to use direct mail to reach them.
Average Life Span
From USPS Mail Data
With an average lifespan of 17 days, Hallmark cards outperform social media and all other direct mail formats. Hallmark cards are known to build authentic relationships, as you frequently send them in your personal lives to your closest friends and family. This allows your brand to come across as genuine in showing your appreciation and concern for your members in a format they are likely to hold on to. Hallmark greeting cards are a powerful tool allowing you to emotionally personalize your message.
Here is an example of typical results reported by health plans: "We mailed Hallmark cards to members before the CAHPS surveys. From our own surveys that we conducted after the mailing, we found that 85% of Hallmark card recipients felt appreciated by their health plan!"
We mailed Hallmark cards to members before the CAHPS surveys. From our own surveys that we conducted after the mailing, we found that 85% of Hallmark card recipients felt appreciated by their health plan!
Using Direct Mail to Help MA Members Better Understand Their Benefits
Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation have a special fondness for greeting cards because they grew up in a time when handwritten messages were a common and valued way of connecting with others. Even today, many appreciate the personal touch and sentimentality of physical cards, which provide a lasting reminder of a personal connection.
To help members better understand their MA plan benefits, you might consider using Hallmark greeting cards to convey information in a warm and personalized way. For instance, you could create a series of cards that highlight different aspects of their coverage, with each card featuring a thoughtful message and relevant details. This approach can make it easier for them to understand and remember important information about their health insurance.
Here are just four things to remember while building a direct mail campaign for your MA members:
1. Determine your goal.
Whether it's acquiring new members, retaining existing ones, closing gaps, explaining benefits, or how to access resources, identify your goal initially. This will help you select an ideal member base and create content that resonates with them.
2. Prioritize list segmentation.
Budgets can be limiting, and your market audience could be quite large. Evaluate your data if you wish to retain members and identify those that are more likely to switch, often called "detractors." Some health plans also identify "promotors," those members that really appreciate the health plan and are likely to be advocates and give high scores on the CAHPS survey. Each member segment requires unique messaging, and Hallmark cards are the perfect vehicle to reach each member with a relevant personalized message just for them.
3. Select a suitable format.
Select the type of format and creative that can convey your message better while resonating with your brand image.
4. Measure results through consistent tracking.
Test and learn. You might want to run multiple tests to confirm the effectiveness of your new initiatives. Track results to identify the best direct mail package, then roll it out to a larger number of MA members.
Additionally, sending a friendly card before AEP begins can remind members to review their plan options and encourage them to call you with questions or concerns. By using Hallmark greeting cards to provide friendly reminders and personalized information, you can help ensure that members feel confident and informed about choosing and staying with your health plan.
Connect With Your Members
Building relationships with your MA members and clearly laying out their benefits is vital to your health plan's growth and retention of members. Fortunately, Hallmark Business Connections is here to help you along the way. We can guide you in crafting personalized messages, making emotional connections, and suggesting ways to track your progress with your members.
Want to reach your target audience to enhance their experience? Contact us here to begin building healthcare strategies that work in your favor.